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Air Permeability

ASTM D737-96
Standard Test Method for Air Permeability of Textile Fabrics

What This Test is Used For:
This test method covers the measurement oI the air permeability--the rate oI air Ilow passing
perpendicularly through a known area under a prescribed air pressure diIIerential between the two surIaces
oI a material--oI textile Iabrics and is applicable to most Iabrics including woven Iabrics, air bag Iabics,
blankets, napped Iabrics, knitted Iabrics, layered Iabrics, and pile Iabrics. The Iabrics may be untreated,
heavily sized, coated, resin-treated or otherwise treated. It is generally expressed in SI units as cm

and in inch-pound units as It

Air permeability is an important Iactor in the perIormance oI such textile materials as gas Iilter, Iabrics Ior
air bags, clothing, mosquito netting, parachutes, sails, tentage, and vaccum cleaners. It can also be used to
provide an indication oI the breathability oI weather-resistant and rainprooI Iabrics.

Construction Iactors and Iinishing techniques can have an eIIect upon air permeability by causing a change
in the length oI airIlow paths through a Iabric. Fabrics with diIIerent surIace textures on either side can
have a diIIerent air permeability depending upon the direction oI air Ilow.

For a woven Iabric, yarn twist is also important. As twist increase, the yarn diameter and the cover Iactor
are decreased. This increases air permeability. Increasing yarn twist may also allow the more circular,
high-density yarns to be packed closely together in a tightly woven structure with reduced air permeability

How the Test Works:
A circle oI Iabric is clamped into the tester and through the use oI a vaccum, the air pressire is made
diIIerent on one side oI the Iabric. AirIlow will occur Irom the side with higher air pressure, through the
Iabric, to the side with the lower air pressure. From this rate oI air Ilow, the air permability oI the Iabric is

Scientific Testing Requirements:
When using this equipment Ior scientiIic purposes, the Iabric must be prepared according to ASTM D1776.

Equipment Needed:
Air permeability testing apparatus
Circular test head with a test area oI 5.93 square inches (15.07 cm).
Clamping system to secure test specimens
Pressure gage or manometer
Cutting dies

Sample Preparation
1. When cutting specimens, avoid wrinkles, Iolds or creases.
2. Avoid getting oil, water, grease, etc. on the specimens when handling.
3. For the purposes oI the lab, each student will test one sample. For scientiIic testing, 10 samples are
4. Use the medium cutting die (sized 4.5 inches/114. cm)
5. Use specimens representing a broad distribution across length and width, preIerably along the diagonal
oI the Iabric.

Preparation of Test Apparatus
1. Make all tests in the standard atmosphere Ior testing textiles.
2. Loosen the clamping system by twisting the top ring counter-clockwise.
3. Position the Iabric sample between the top and bottom oI the column, ensuring that Iabric covers the
entire opening. The Iabric should be placed right side down.
4. Tighten the clamping system completely.
5. Place coated test specimens with the coated side down (toward the low pressure side) to minimize air
edge leakage.

Test Procedure
1. Read and record the individual test results in SI units or in inch-pound units rounded to three signiIicant
2. Ensure that the control vales 'A and 'C on the right are completely closed.
3. Check that the manometer (the glass tube oI liquid) indicates zero. Adjust iI necessary using the black
knob on the top right oI the machine to raise and lower the level.
4. Using the Ioot switch, turn on the vacuum pump (does this have to be held down?)
5. Using the black Ilowtube switch closer to the center on the leIt side oI the machine, select Ilow tube
number 4.
6. Gradually open 'Valve C (on the right side) until the required pressure is shown on the manometer
7. II the Ilowtube Iloat has not moved close 'Valve C.
8. Select Flowtube number 3.
9. Gradually open 'Valve C (on the right side) until the required pressure is shown on the manometer
10. II the Ilowtube Iloat has not moved close 'Valve C.
11. Select Ilowtube number 2.
12. Gradually open 'Valve A until the required pressure drop is shown on the manometer.
13. II the Iloat in tube 2 does not rise, close 'Valve A.
14. Select Ilowtube number 1.
15. Gradually open 'Valve A until the required pressure drop is shown on the manometer.
16. Once a range has been established Ior a particular type oI material, the correct Ilowtube can be selected
without going through the sequence.

Results / Calculation:
1. Air Permeability, Individual Specimens: use values read directly Irom the test instrument in SI units and
in inch-pound units rounded to three signiIicant digits.
2. Air Permeability, Average: calculate the average air permeability Ior the entire laboratory sampling unit.

1. Report that the air permeability was determined in accordance with Test Method D373.
2. Describe the material or product sampled and the method oI sampling used.
3. Report the Iollowing inIormation Ior each sample:
a. Air Permeability (both individual and average).
b. Pressure diIIerential between the Iabric surIaces. (Where is this Iound?)
c. ManuIacturer (SDL America, Inc) and model (MO21S Air Permeability Tester) oI test
d. Any modiIication oI this test method or equipment including changing or adding gaskets.